This story takes place in contemporary Morocco where all the officals are corrupt, except one, and he is curious. This is a slim novel about one man’s attempts to stay clear of corruption while at the same time desiring things he cannot have without tainting himself. In this story, the status quo is that everyone takes money in various forms for doing their jobs. Without this extra money, it’s very hard to earn a living at a government job. The narrator barely gets by but his wife is constantly after him to earn more by being corrupt and many of their freidns seems to think he is somehow mentally defective for not being on the take.
The author spends a lot of time inside his own head questioning his motives and trying to decide if the path he has chosen for himself is justified. When he does take one small bribe in an attempt to both court his mistress and provide needed medical care for his daughter, his world goes into a tailspin from which he spends a long time recovering. The morality of everyone’s situation is shown in many shades of grey and the language itself, translated from French, is lovely to read.